Red Riding: 1980 is the second made-for-TV British film in the Red Riding trilogy. The films are fictional, though they incorporate elements of real life. They are cop dramas, set in Yorkshire.
Red Riding: 1980 takes place during the time of the notorious Yorkshire Ripper serial killer case. The local police have apparently not done all that great a job pursuing the case, so an outside cop from Manchester—Peter Hunter—is brought in to investigate the investigation.
He discovers not just that the Ripper investigation has been incompetent, but that there may be something more nefarious going on, some effort to keep the investigation from inadvertently revealing some corrupt dealings of the police themselves. In particular, one of the Ripper victims might not have been killed by the Ripper after all, but possibly killed so as to resemble the Ripper murders to keep her quiet about the crimes of the police.
Hunter’s task is complicated by the fact that one never knows whom to trust and whom not to in a situation like this. If the Yorkshire cops are indeed up to something, then one can assume that some or all of them are working to keep Hunter in the dark. There’s no guarantee that Hunter’s two co-workers or assistants in the investigation—one of whom he previously had an affair with—aren’t secretly working for the other side. Even his superiors who gave him this assignment in the first place might have reason to want it to fail; in fact once he starts getting closer to sensitive areas he is taken off the case. Then there are the various criminals, ex-cops, and informants he questions about the goings-on in Yorkshire; certainly it would be naïve to take at face value what he is told by these people.
I frankly don’t have a lot to say about Red Riding: 1980. My reaction to it is very much the same as how I felt after watching Red Riding: 1974, the first film in the trilogy. The bleak atmospherics of Yorkshire during this time period are interesting, and I suspect that these films are at least above average for cop dramas, especially made-for-TV cop dramas, but it’s hard to say for sure because I can’t understand what the hell these people are saying.
These are dialogue-heavy films with complex plots. My inability to make out these northern England accents means I’m missing a great deal that matters to my understanding and enjoyment of the films.
How many of the words of dialogue could I actually make out? I don’t know, 30%? 40%? Then given how much I could infer from the words I could understand and from the visuals of the scenes to fill in the gaps, maybe you could bump that up to 60% or so. But that leaves an awful lot that I just completely missed.
I will likely watch the final film in order to complete the trilogy, but I don’t have high hopes. It’s a shame, because while this isn’t a favorite genre of mine, I’m pretty sure I’d like these films a decent amount if I could understand what the characters are saying. I read online that there are subtitled versions of one or more of the three. I’m sure that would help, but unfortunately the versions I’ve watched of the first two were not subtitled.